Brazilian President Michel Temer has nominated his justice minister, Alexandre de Moraes, to the Supreme Court to replace Judge Teori Zavascki, who died in a plane crash last month.
The announcement was made as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on one of the biggest corruption scandals in the country's history, the investigation known as "Operation Car Wash," a massive bribery scandal involving Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras.
President Temer said he wouldn't make a political appointment and that he wanted someone whose personality was similar to Zavascki’s.The 68-year-old judge had been reviewing explosive testimony from executives at engineering group Odebrecht, Latin America's largest construction firm. The evidence was expected to implicate an array of politicians.
However, by choosing Moraes, Temer is doing just what he promised not to do. Moraes is one of Temer's closest allies and is well-known to social movements in the state of Sao Paulo. He previously served as secretary of security for the right-wing government of the state where he oversaw several brutal crackdowns on social protests.
He also served as a lawyer for Transcooper, a company accused of running a money-laundering operation on behalf of Primeiro Comando da Capital, the largest criminal organization in Brazil.
Temer said he had chosen Moraes for his "solid academic credentials." The 49-year-old lawyer is a member of the PSDB party, which is part of Temer's governing coalition. Moraes joined the Cabinet in May, when Temer led a parliamentary coup against former President Dilma Rousseff.
Temer’s administration has not pushed back against the efforts by corrupt lawmakers who are trying to end the Car Wash probe, which has so far sent scores of top politicians and business figures to prison.